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Molinaroli College of Engineering and Computing

  • Ensuring battery safety

USC Molinaroli College of Engineering and Computing to host battery safety workshop

The 2024 Battery Safety Workshop, spearheaded by Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering Associate Professor Xinyu Huang and his colleagues, aims to tackle the critical issue of battery safety head-on. The workshop, which will be hosted at the University of South Carolina Molinaroli College of Engineering and Computing on August 5-6, will highlight the importance of collaboration and innovation in ensuring the safety of batteries in an increasingly mobile society.

Battery safety is not just a technical challenge; it is a matter of life and death.

"A battery factory in South Korea recently caught fire and killed 23 people in less than an hour, so the high energy battery safety is a big issue because it can be really risky," Huang says.

Though not extremely frequent, battery-related accidents occur often enough to necessitate serious attention. Incidents in factories, cars, warehouses and energy storage stations highlight the significant risks associated with battery failures. The workshop responds to these risks, aiming to foster dialogue and innovation.

The workshop's mission is to address the fundamental science of battery safety and develop powerful design tools for the next generation of safe batteries.

"We have witnessed significant scientific research breakthroughs and engineering technology development in academia and industries in recent years. In the meantime, due to the complexity of the batteries as energy storage systems, fundamental problems remain unsolved or even unidentified, hindering the further development of the battery-related industry," Huang says.

The focus on safety will ensure that all discussions and presentations are relevant to the critical issue at hand, promoting a unified effort to enhance battery safety across the industry. This includes everything from the material shell and system level to mechanisms and mitigation.

Since 2022, the Battery Safety Workshop has focused on battery safety research, providing a forum to discuss state-of-the-art progress in this area. It aims to inspire collaborative efforts to solve battery safety issues, bringing together scientists, researchers, and engineers from academia and industry. The speakers for this year’s workshop include a diverse group of experts from national labs, leading companies, innovative startups and universities. This year's attendance is expected to surpass 100 participants, reflecting a growing commitment to battery safety.

One of the workshop's highlights is the presentation of breakthrough solutions by various companies. Innovations include new battery materials that are more resistant to runaway events, often the initiators of fires. Some materials can withstand extreme conditions, such as being shot with bullets, without compromising safety.

"You cannot really innovate or even understand the problem in an isolated manner, so this workshop is basically a forum for people to exchange ideas,” Huang says. 

The workshop also aims to support the next generation of researchers and professionals. Graduate students are offered significantly reduced rates to attend, providing an invaluable opportunity to learn, network and present their work in a supportive environment. A poster presentation session will also provide a platform for students to showcase their cutting-edge research and innovative solutions in battery safety.

"We have three awards, all with cash prizes and certificates. There are two first-place trophies supported by our sponsors," says Golareh Jalilvand, chemical engineering assistant professor and a member of the workshop organizing committee. "I think the students, if they know about this, will be motivated to attend."

Registration for the workshop is currently open. 

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